Damian Heinisch is a Polish artist working in Norway.
Episode 121: Damian Heinisch‘s 45 was the winner of the MACK First Book Award this past year. I remember being very excited about the title when I saw it from afar. I could see the Heinisch was thinking through history and collective trauma. These are topics that I relate very closely to.
I could also see that the images bore a certain anachronism to them-a seemingly time out of place or adjacent historical reality meted out in photographic form where the people and places that Damian was working on from felt of another time, of another possible reality. These images merged and formed what is not one of the more significant books published this year.
45 in short form is a story about European history. The images are shot through the proverbial window of time on a train journey from the Ukraine to Norway. This journey mirrors a similar journey taken by his family in the past in which the post-war landscape of Europe is simultaneously put under the microscope and held at a distance through the window of the train. The images are created through the translucent barrier of the window which gives the author the distance needed to reflect on the past 100 years of European history and to consider what it means to be Trans-European in the sense of family genealogy and the personal history of Heinisch who was born in Poland, grew up in Germany and now makes his home in Norway. The world has changed and yet, the spectre still haunts Europe as we re-assess what borders and nationality means with the rise of populism.
Speaking with Heinisch, I found his gentle and reflective demeanour somehow soothing. There was a sensibility in his words that mirrored the work and we were able to discuss his family background and the work itself. He was open with his thoughts on his European upbringing and the challenges that Europe is facing politically at present. His manner of speaking about his family background and his process were highly illuminating.
I very much revere my time with Damian and I support his efforts whole-heartedly. Please have a listen to this. If you are in London and you are able, 45 will be on show The Webber Gallery From December 3rd, 2020-January 29th, 2021. Please do check with gallery opening and closing hours as the pandemic may change availability.